Orioles keep making left turn

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles were denied the chance to face a left-handed starter yesterday when their game against the Pittsburgh Pirates was rained out, but there's always another one right around the corner.

They stepped into the box on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays' Mark Buerhle in Dunedin and on Monday against the New York Yankees' Vidal Nuno in Sarasota. They never saw the Pirates' Wandy Rodriguez yesterday, but they get the Yankees' Nik Turley and the Boston Red Sox's Franklin Morales today and tonight, respectively, in split-squad games.

It also seems as though every reliever used by the opposition is a southpaw.

Where have all the right-handers gone?

"It actually helps," said manager Buck Showalter as he sat in the visiting manager's office at McKechnie Field. "A lot of the guys that we're looking at, it's that role, as you can tell by the lineups."

It may not do Wilson Betemit any favors, since he's a career .228/.285/.352 hitter from the right side of the plate. He was supposed to serve as the designated hitter yesterday and he figures to be in one of the lineups today or tonight.

Then again, Betemit feels as though he has something to prove to the Orioles, and the string of southpaws gives him a chance to do it.

"Wilson came into spring talking to Jimmy (Presley) and everybody about, 'I want to show I can hit right-handed this spring,' so he's getting a chance," Showalter said.

Betemit faced left-hander Zach Britton in an intrasquad game and struck out. The next day, he flied out against left-hander Mark Hendrickson and struck out looking against left-hander Daniel Schlereth.

With Buehrle on the mound Sunday, Betemit flied out to center field in the first inning. He also went hitless against right-handed relievers Sergio Santos and Chad Jenkins.

As for my plans today, I can't attend the Yankees game because the clubhouse at Ed Smith Stadium opens to reporters at 2 p.m. and I'm flying solo here. Can't be in two places at once, no matter how hard I try, and I don't have anyone to cover for me. We'll survive.

Most of the regulars figure to stay back, so I'll do the same while checking the Orioles' box score.


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